It has been a very busy week around here, and I am still recovering from the Daylight Savings Time switcheroo. On Sunday morning, I had to report to work at what my body was telling me was 4:30 AM, and my body is still not happy about that! My two teen-aged girls are gone all week to TeenPact and, oh my, am I already missing them terribly.
I have been planning for awhile to tell about our Family Wipes adventures, and now seems to be a good time. We began to use Family Wipes a couple of months ago. I had actually thought about doing it a long time ago, before I even read about it on the internet, but when I was looking for a way to slash our expenses, the time seemed right to implement it. Now I am the kind of gal, that, when I make up my mind about something, there is no turning back, even if I had to drag everyone kicking and screaming along the way. I also do not believe a family is a democracy. I am "she who must be obeyed," so there was no discussion. I just got everything set up and then made the announcement to my children.
I will never forget the literal wail that arose from Sweetness.
She then did not speak to me for the rest of the day. But, true to her name, she was back to her sweet self the next day, but she warned me, "No-one outside our family must know of this." I promised her and have almost kept that promise. I have told one equally crunchy and insane friend who got very excited about the idea, and I made her promise not to tell anyone else.
The verdict three months later is that, well, they still would rather use toilet paper but are used to the whole process now. I take care of the washing etc so for them using a piece of cloth and dropping it in the basket is not much different (or so I keep reminding them) from using paper and dropping it in the toilet. My husband has not yet brought himself to use them. I don't know what the hangup is, but I am being patient. I am sure he will come around eventually. As for me, even if all our financial challenges disappeared tomorrow, I think I would keep on using them because they feel nice.
So, on to the nuts and bolts. For the wipes, I went to a thrift store and bought a set of queen-sized flannel sheets. I wanted a brown print (for obvious reasons) but had to settle for a dark blue and white plaid. I spent one evening cutting the flat sheet up into squares that are about 6-8 inches. I did this very non-carefully, but they came out pretty even. I did not take the time to hem the edges but if one wanted to do that, one could. I just wanted to get the show on the road. I still have the fitted sheet in reserve for when we need more wipes. So basically I got about 250 wipes for about $2.50. I also purchased three net lingerie bags
with the toggle type drawstring closings. These go in a garbage can with a swinging lid. The wipes go in a cute little basket on the back of the toilet, and after use they are dropped in the can. The mesh bags were $4 apiece and the garbage cans were $8 apiece. The baskets were each a dollar. So my start-up costs were $44. You could save more if you found the supplies on sale or used. I wasn't that patient!
Here is a picture of what it looks like in our girls' bathroom (and you do not know the bravery it took to post a picture taken in our actual house).
Here is a closer look at the set-up.
When laundry time comes, I just remove the lid from the garbage can, cinch up the laundry bag, and throw the three bags in the laundry. I use my regular one tablespoon of homemade laundry soap, but I do wash these in hot water. I run them through the fast cycle on our front loader, which takes 30 minutes. I usually add any rags that need washing.
Then comes the most tedious aspect of the whole process, and that is hanging them out to dry. I use two racks to hold our week's supply for a family of 7-8. It probably takes me half an hour to get them all hung out. They dry very quickly and in a few hours are ready to stack in the baskets. I do believe that if I machine dried them, the smoothing out and stacking would take longer, and my wipes would also ravel badly and not last as long, so I will keep line drying them.
To answer the questions I KNOW you have:
-No, they don't stink. I went into this figuring they would and planned to wash at least twice a week. I went back to once a week because I realized it was simply not needed. One day something was stinking in the bathroom, so I washed the wipes, thinking that was it, but the stink remained. I was a brave one and actually brought the empty but not rinsed bucket up to my face and took a good whiff...NO ODOR. The stink was coming from something in the regular garbage can. I am sure that if I left them for weeks on end, they would develop an odor. I just don't plan to let that happen.
-Yes, they feel nice. Try it out, the chicken way. Take a piece of toilet paper and rub it on you face, as hard as you would if you were "wiping." Now rub a piece of flannel there. Feel the difference? Now imagine this same difference on the most tender part of your body. Aaaaaahhhhhhh.
-No, the cost of washing them does not compare to buying TP. I wash a load of rags almost every day, and I just add these in with that.
-Yes, it's worth the work. I estimate I save about $15/month by not having to buy toilet paper. Subtracting start-up costs, I will save $120 the first year and $180/year after that, more if the cost of TP goes up. If someone wanted to give you $180 once a year, would you take it? I sure would, and I have!